Monday, March 30, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Amador City, background information, shops

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AMADOR CITY

A Little Background
With a population of under 200, this is the smallest incorporated city in the state.  Basically it is a quiet crook in the road lined with a collection of interesting antiques shops, boutiques, and food shops situated inside atmospheric historical buildings—some with their original brick walls and iron doors. 


Main Street in Amador City, California

Shops:
Bellflower Home and Garden Store  10787 Water St., (209) 267-1985.  Crammed to the rafters with a mix of charming and garish garden items, this store sprawls through two buildings and an adjoining yard.  You’re bound to find something you didn’t know you needed. 
Bellflower Home and Garden Store in Amador City, California

●Little City Studio & Gallery  14180 Main St. (Old Hwy. 49), (209) 267-9257.  F-Sun 10-5.  Located inside a building featuring the original brick walls, this is a working textile studio and gallery.  It features woven and hand-knitted items, fabric collage, and quilts, plus art, jewelry, and more--all made by local artists and craftspeople.  Rugs and scarves can be made to order.  New and gently worn clothing are also available.  It is a big bonus that prices are reasonable.
Little City Studio & Gallery in Amador City, California
Victorian Closet  (209) 267-5250.  On the other side of the vintage brick wall dividing this very old building, this charming shop is filled with vintage laces, dresses, buttons and bows, and even doll wardrobe cases in perfect condition. 

Victorian Closet in Amador City, California

●Meyer’s Antiques
  In Pig Turd Alley/Main St.  In this well-located, well-curated shop, you’ll find vintage slot machines, arcade games, game-related antiques such as ivory chips, saloon items, and more. 
Meyer's Antiques in Pig Turd Alley in Amador City, California

More things to do in Amador City.

More things to do in nearby Sutter Creek. 

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, March 27, 2015

San Francisco: Palace of Fine Arts

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Palace of Fine Arts  3301 Lyon St./Bay St., in the Marina, (415) 563-6504.  Free.  This cavernous building was designed by architect Bernard Maybeck in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition (an early World’s Fair celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal) and is said to be the world’s largest artificial ruin.  No longer home to the Exploratorium, which moved in 2013, it now is open only for special events that are scheduled regularly in its theater.  A paved path leads around the lagoon and makes a lovely walk. 

Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

On my stroll, I saw an impressive range of wildlife that included the expected ducks, swans, and seagulls, but also turtles, large catfish, white egrets, and giant blue herons doing a mating dance in their tree nest.  Grassy areas and plentiful benches provide the perfect spot for a picnic. 

swan in lagoon at Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco


great blue herons nesting in tree at Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco


mystery bird in lagoon at Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco
Can you identify this bird?

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek: BellaGrace Vineyards tasting room


BellaGrace Vineyards tasting room  73 Main St., (209) 267-8053.  Thur-Mon 11-5.  Set back from the street in a historic house surrounded by a white picket fence, this circa 1860 house is converted into a charming tasting room.  In the entry, one room is devoted just to olive oil tasting.  Wine tasting occurs downstairs in a subterranean tasting room.  From mid-April through mid-October, live music by local artists is scheduled on the outside deck.  You are invited to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the music.  Specializing in estate-grown Rhone varietals as well as Zinfandel and Primitivo, this winery also offers tastings in the newly completed wine caves at its vineyard estate in Plymouth.   

BellaGrace tasting room in Sutter Creek, California

olive oil tasting bar at BellaGrace winery tasting room in Sutter Creek, California

subterranean tasting room at BellaGrace winery in Sutter Creek, California

More things to do in Sutter Creek.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, March 23, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek: Monteverde General Store Museum & AmadorArts Gallery


Monteverde General Store Museum  11 Randolph St., (209) 267-1431.  Thur-M by appt.  Free.  Located on a side street, this museum is the actual interior of an 1890s general store.  The store opened in 1896 and has been preserved as it was when it closed for business in 1971.  The shelves are loaded with appropriate merchandise—dry goods, clothing, penny candy.  Look for the original cast-iron pot-belly stove and an ornately carved oak icebox that is set into the wall.  Note that hours are not set are dependent upon the availability of volunteers. 
    Next door is the small office that houses AmadorArts Gallery, where murals by local artist Rand Hugget depicting Sutter Creek’s history are hand-painted onto the walls.  The gallery also features a new collection of works by local artists each month.  (209) 267-9038.  M-Tues & Thur-F, 9am-2pm, Sat-Sun noon-4pm.


exterior of Monteverde General Store Museum in Sutter Creek, California


interior of Monteverde General Store Museum in Sutter Creek, California


interior of Monteverde General Store Museum in Sutter Creek, California

More things to do in Sutter Creek.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, March 20, 2015

880 South: Oakland, The Growlers' Arms--CLOSED



The Growlers' Arms  4214 Park Blvd./Glenfield Ave., Glenview neighborhood, (510) 328-1315.  D Tu-Sat, Sat&SunBr; $$$.  Entering this dark corner restaurant takes you far away, into the land of friendly neighborhood pubs.  But this is not your run-of-the-mill pub.  It is a gastropub, with a finesse in service and quality in cuisine.  


The interior has an exposed wood-beam ceiling painted black, a vintage red-brick wall, and mellow Beatles music playing softly in the background.

interior of The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


To start I chose the rarebit appetizer, which according to the waiter was made with “unctuous” white Irish goat cheese melted in a 700-degree wood-burning oven atop a slab of housemade bread and further topped with the most luscious fresh green peas.  (I love the sound of the word “unctuous” but admit I did have to look it up, and I was surprised to learn it only means “fatty.”)

rarebit at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


My main course was a very tasty oven-roasted flat iron steak that was served sliced for easy eating.  It came with a little bowl of housemade catsup and a side of the most delicious crispy-crisp chips I’ve even eaten.

flat iron steak at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


Fortunately, I opted for a luscious and potent Boulevardier cocktail (bourbon, sweet vermouth, Campari) to go with it.

Boulevardier cocktail at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


My companion ordered what he says is the best trout he’s ever had, served atop whipped potato-like celeriac champ.

trout atop celeriac champ at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


For dessert we shared the Growlers’ Mess, which is indeed a lovely mess of grapefruit segments, meringue, vanilla ice cream, and candied citrus skin whose flavor stayed in my mouth right out into the street.  I do so wish we’d had room also for the traditional Irish banoffee pie made with banana cream on the bottom and toffee on the top, and also for the sticky toffee pudding ice cream.  I can’t believe I turned those down!

Growlers' Mess at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


We also shared “a proper pot of tea” with dessert, and I was just delighted with the floral cups and saucers that came with it.  My waiter told me that the owners themselves searched for the tea cups and mix-matched silverware at garage sales and flea markets.

a proper tea service at The Growlers' Arms in Oakland, California


The menu suggests ordering a picnic pork pie to go for lunch the next day.  The next day I was definitely sorry I forgot to do that.  The menu here changes daily, depending on what is good at the market, and the kitchen butchers its own meat, makes its own salumi, and prepares breads from scratch.  Plentiful seating is available in two rooms on banquettes, in booths, and at the bar.  It was obvious that many people were repeat customers, and the staff was so friendly that I’ll bet they even remember names.

Growlers' Arms on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Oakland.

Way more things to do in Oakland. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways. 

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek: Hotel Sutter


Hotel Sutter  53 Main St., (800) 892-2276, (209) 267-0242.  3 stories; 21 rooms.  Continental breakfast included.  A hotel has been here since 1852, though several have burned to the ground--in fact, in 1865 the whole town burned down!  The current incarnation was built out of stone and has been here since the early 1900s.  In those earlier days, the 7:30 a.m. stagecoach to San Francisco left from right in front.  Impromptu trials and hangings also occurred there.  The current owners have completed an extensive renovation and are continuing to uncover hidden bricks and woodwork.  Guest rooms are on the second and third floors, and each is decorated attractively in deep jewel tones and holds a bed covered with an elegant handcrafted quilt

exterior of Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California 
 
lobby at Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California
lobby at Hotel Sutter

guest room at Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California
guest room at Hotel Sutter

     The Hotel Sutter Restaurant offers fine dining on the ground floor.  The Lobby Bar is a sweet place to whet your whistle, the Balcony bar offers prime seats for watching over the town action, and The Cellar subterranean lounge is outfitted with comfortable puffy chairs and schedules live music on weekends. 

apple corn cake at Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California
apple corn cake at Hotel Sutter


The Lobby Bar at Hotel Sutter in Sutter Creek, California
The Lobby Bar at Hotel Sutter
Hotel Sutter on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Sutter Creek.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Monday, March 16, 2015

Highway 49--Gold Rush Country: Sutter Creek, background, visitor information, shops

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SUTTER CREEK

Visitor Information
Sutter Creek Visitor’s Center  71A Main St., (800) 400-0305, (209) 267-1344.



A Little Background
Seven gold mines were once located on this quiet Main Street that remains crammed with several blocks of vintage buildings.  Now it is lined with modern gold mines--antiques shops and art galleries.

The Antique Gardener  80 Main St., (209) 267-5551.  W-M 11-5.  This impossibly charming shoppe carries a blend of new and vintage garden items, the most darling seasonal items (the Easter egg selection is swoon-worthy), and a vast selection of soft kitchen towels adorned with all your favorite motifs.




Fineeye Gallery  71 Main St. (Old Hwy. 49), (209) 267-0571.  Daily 11-5.  Fine American art and crafts are what you’ll find here.


More things to do in Sutter Creek.

More things to do in Gold Rush Country.
 
Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, March 13, 2015

80 North: Berkeley, A Dora Pie + annual Pi Day celebration in Bay Area


A Dora Pie  1966 University Ave./Milvia St., downtown, (510) 705-8800.  M-Sat 11am-7pm.  Slice $7, whole pie $35, giant cookie $3.  It’s all about the pies here, though a few giant cookies are also available.  Named for owner-chef Christopher Blue’s wife's grandmother Dora, who loved to bake, the shop is colored an old-time lime green and displays collections of vintage rolling pins and flour sifters on the walls.  Tables are topped with reclaimed wood from an 1822 railroad tunnel, and an outdoor patio in a rose garden out back is inviting in good weather.  Pies and cookies line the counters of the visible exhibition kitchen.


The inventory changes, but among the housemade pie possibilities are apple, lemon meringue, pecan, pumpkin, and banana cream.  Madagascar chocolate was my choice, and I did indeed delight in its creamy milk-chocolateness, which I favor over dark chocolate.


The sour-cream crust can be tough to cut with a plastic fork but I quickly decided to pick it up with my hands and eat it pizza-style.  Portions are generous, and ingredients are top-notch.  Savory pies are coming soon.  We took home a delicious chocolate chip cookie that was really a chocolate slab cookie and also a very good oatmeal cookie to enjoy after dinner.  Drinks are a simple choice of coffee, milk, or water.
          Next door at Chocolatier Blue, Chef Blue dispenses handcrafted chocolates.  More . . .

A Dora Pie on Urbanspoon



And since tomorrow, March 14, is the annual Pi Day, you might want to celebrate by eating some pie.  In fact, maybe you'll want to eat several slices because this year on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53 a.m. and p.m. the date and time reflect the first ten numbers of the mathematical constant known as pi.  This happens only once per century.  Pizza is also an option.  Special celebrations are happening at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. 

More places to enjoy pie.

My Mom's Apple Pie recipe to make at home.

More things to do in Berkeley.

Way more thing to do in Berkeley. 

Here are some travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Greater East Bay: Lafayette, Rising Loafer


Rising Loafer  3643 Mt. Diablo Blvd., by Trader Joe’s, (510) 284-8816.  B-L W-Sun (7-3); $$; cash only.  Breakfast is the most popular time at this small coffee shop.  Eggs Benedict come with either ham or spinach (both are very tasty), and many varieites of omelette are on the menu.  I prefer breakfast with a cup of fruit rather than the home fries.  Though the Everything Crepe is the most popular dish on the menu, I plan to buck the crowds and try their fresh peach dessert crepe next time.  Fresh-baked breads make the sandwiches extra good--the consensus is that the Reuben is a really good choice—and salads and housemade soups are also options.  Outside tables are inviting in good weather.

Rising Loafer Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

More things to do in Lafayette.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers  

interior of Rising Loafer in Lafayette, California

eggs Benedict at Rising Loafer in Lafayette, California


Monday, March 9, 2015

San Francisco: Park Chow


Park Chow  1238 9th Ave./Irving St., (415) 665-9912.  B-L-D daily; $$.  Convenient to Golden Gate Park, this cog in the small chain of Chow restaurants is my choice for breakfast followed by a visit to the park.  My favorite on the mostly local and organic menu is eggs Benedict, served here with satisfying large-chunk home-fries that are soft on the inside and crisp on the outside.  Pancakes, huevos rancheros, and even quinoa ragout with poached eggs are among the many other options.  Later in the day, diners rave about smiling noodles, garden pasta, and ginger cake as well as the Boston cooler (ginger ale float) and mimosas.  Just about any kind of seating you might want is available in the expansive, yet cozy space—fireside banquette, bar stools, booths, patio with heat lamp (upstairs is primo)—and service is good.

Park Chow on Urbanspoon

interior at Park Chow in San Francisco, California

eggs over easy at Park Chow in San Francisco, California

eggs Benedict at Park Chow in San Francisco, California

Things to do in nearby Golden Gate Park.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  

images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, March 6, 2015

San Francisco: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young Museum

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The de Young Museum is currently showcasing "Embodiments:  Masterworks of African Figurative Sculpture." The pieces depict full human and animal figures, sorted into categories for which they are used--to mourn, to protect, to harvest.  More.  Show runs through July 5, 2015.


More things to do in Golden Gate Park.

More things to do in San Francisco

Way more things to do in San Francisco. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular getaways.  


images ©2015 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Mbulu-ngulu-from burial basket-Gabon,Kota Obamba-19th century, DeYoung Museum San Francisco
Mbulu-ngulu-from burial basket-Gabon,Kota Obamba-19th century

Musaw headrest-Congo-Yaka-20th century, DeYoung Museum San Francisco
Musaw headrest-Congo-Yaka-20th century

Post-manhood rituals-Congo,Nkanu-19th-early 20th century, DeYoung Museum San Francisco
Post-manhood rituals-Congo,Nkanu-19th-early 20th century

Tadep-healing rituals-Cameroon,Mambila-20th century, DeYoung Museum San Francisco
Tadep-healing rituals-Cameroon,Mambila-20th century

headdress for harvest festival-Cameroon,Bamum-20th century, DeYoung Museum San Francisco
headdress for harvest festival-Cameroon,Bamum-20th century